South Africa to produce own sm

South Africa to produce own smartphones

In a bid to compete with the international market, South Africa-based MINT Electronics is set to launch its first smartphone products next month – with the cheapest model rumoured to be priced around R600.

South Africa to produce own sm


A Boksburg-based company is set to launch the first South African-produced smartphones next month, aiming to appeal to the low-income market with affordable budget phone models.

Mint Electronics, a subsidiary of Sekoko Holdings, will share details about its mobile phone models alongside a tablet, which is also in development, next month. However, it has already been revealed that the phones will feature the Android operating system as well as boast dual SIM ports to switch between various service providers – a feature that is highly coveted on the African market.

While much of the phone’s components will truly be “made in Mzansi”, the processor chips are rumoured to be provided by US manufacturer Qualcomm.

The announcement comes after the manufacturing branch of the company had previously invested almost R10 million in research for the local product to be designed and developed. It will be the first product of its kind to be built in SA, as over a third of cell phone users in South Africa have already switched over to using smartphones in recent years. Over half of all South African consumers likely to have purchased smartphones by 2017, according to recent market research studies, as the country is beginning to catch up with global technology trends.

With Nokia poised to hit the South African market with its low-market Asha models later this year, the South African-produced brand is trying to compete for budget-savvy consumers, while higher-end products built by international brands such as BlackBerry, Apple and Samsung are set to remain the staple of the middle classes.

The company, which is headed by Oupa Magashula, the former commissioner of the South African Revenue Service, is confident that the market is ready for his product: “We are not going to try to compete with the likes of Samsung. Our products will have unique features, content and will be priced below some existing high-end products,” Magashula said ahead of next month’s launch.

While South Africa’s mobile data landscape is trailing behind the western world in many respects, analysts hope that access to more affordable and better performing phone models might give service providers a push to create better data products.

Before the phones and tablets can run off the assembly line, however, there is still a legal disagreement that needs to be settled in court over varying shares held in the manufacturing process.

By Sertan Sanderson, 2014